Informal waste pickers are an active and persistent element of recycling waste management systems across the Asia-Pacific area, riding bikes and walking, using trikes, pushcarts, and other vehicles. Rubbish pickers collect, sift, and extract recyclable waste from city streets, marketplaces, and dumpsites for a living.
COVID-19 has posed additional hurdles for waste collectors who are attempting to sustain. Their services while also prevent marine plastic contamination. Across the Asia-Pacific, 829 million informal workers have lost their jobs, putting 636 million vulnerable people in danger of falling into extreme poverty. According to recent research in Bangkok, 14% of informal rubbish pickers will go hungry in 2020 as daily salaries fall. With the closure of recycling shops, price decreases in materials. And increased exposure to dangerous medical waste is the most important effect on waste pickers.
Plastic product production, consumption, and garbage increased in 2020 as waste systems stalled. Growing demand for meal delivery and online shopping in Bangkok has resulted in a 62% increase in plastic garbage output. Cities, as the primary contributors of plastic pollution, are at the forefront of efforts to achieve SDGs 11, 12, and 14. Scaling up policymaker interaction with the informal trash industry offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help local communities while also reducing plastic pollution.
Closing the Loop and WIEGO have outlined ten principles that should be followed when developing inclusive waste management systems:
Without us, nothing is possible.
Bottom-up inputs from the impacted local communities are required for inclusive waste management systems. Multi-stakeholder gatherings. Such as India’s Solid Trash Management Round Tables, which can serve as open platforms for many players to collaborate on waste management solutions.
Enhance what currently exists.
Local economic, social, and environmental issues impact the informal garbage sector. To find shared goals and opportunities to improve waste management services, policymakers must first understand these stakeholders. Coordination with local specialists and community representatives is the first step toward this knowledge.
Gender-sensitive approaches should be used.
Women make up a large part of waste pickers. Their own funds are in waste picker organizations that take a gender-centric approach.
Organize waste-picking teams.
Organizing waste pickers has a number of development benefits, including a lower danger of exploitation, higher earnings, and quality of life. Increased social prestige, and the opportunity to advocate for workers’ rights. They provide a crucial platform for local policymakers to create long-term connections with waste pickers.
De-stigmatize squandered time.
Asbestos pickers face societal stigma, which is exacerbated by exclusionary waste management practices. Supporting informal garbage workers’ organizations with government contracts that include lobbying and community outreach is one of the most effective strategies to combat stigma.
Train people at various levels.
Waste pickers, city institutions, civic society, and the private sector all need capacity-building and training to develop best practices and shared knowledge of waste management duties and responsibilities.
Ensure the safety of vital employees.
Waste pickers work in dangerous situations but nonetheless provide an important service. The provision of personal protection equipment. In the informal sector has never been more important than it is in the context of COVID-19. As a result, governments and the garbage sector play a critical role in ensuring that people have access to PPE and suitable infrastructure.
Make low-tech practices a priority.
Some types of waste management modernization have the potential to displace current informal labour networks. To safeguard the livelihoods of waste pickers, pro-poor interventions. That support and improve existing behaviors are critical, particularly for women and those who are more vulnerable to displacement.
Payment for services should be made.
In many cities, waste pickers provide some of the sole waste management and recycling services. They reach out to hard-to-reach and low-income communities.
The focus should be on alleviating poverty.
Waste management systems that are inclusive should be built with the long-term goal of reducing poverty for vulnerable groups in mind. Cities can provide long-term job opportunities, improve trash management services, and benefit local communities by integrating informal waste pickers.
In the global drive to decrease plastic pollution, the informal garbage sector is a vital asset. And cost-effective waste management solutions, as well as to use this productive workforce for environmental preservation.
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